US 20060199649 A1
A system automatically monitors playing and wagering of a game, including the gaming habits of players and the performance of employees at least partially by tracking the movement of chips bearing identifiers. A chip tray reader images the contents of a chip tray, while a table reader images chips on the gaming table. Chip identifiers may be associated with customer or player identifiers, the customer's or player's names may or may not be known. The system detects customer or player behavior such as prohibited playing and wagering patterns, and determines the win/loss percentage of the players and the dealer, as well as a number of other statistically relevant measures. The measurements provide automated security and real-time accounting. The measurements also provide a basis for automatically allocating complimentary player benefits.
1. A card deck reader, comprising:
a housing having a cradle sized to receive a plurality of playing cards; and
a reading head positioned in the housing to read a respective machine-readable symbol on each of at least two of the playing cards while the at least two of the playing cards remain in the cradle and before a first one of the at least two playing cards is removed from the cradle.
2. The card deck reader of
a drive mechanism coupled to the reading head to move the reading head with respect to the playing cards.
3. The card deck reader of
4. The card deck reader of
5. The card deck reader of
6. The card deck reader of
7. The card deck reader of
a light source received in the housing and positioned to illuminate at least a portion of a respective surface of each of at least two playing cards when the playing cards are received in the housing.
8. The card deck reader of
a decoder coupled to the reading head to receive and decode a signal from the reading head corresponding to a number of the machine-readable symbols read from the playing cards.
9. The card deck reader of
a microprocessor coupled to the reading head to receive a signal from the reading head corresponding to a number of the machine-readable symbols read from the playing cards; and
a memory coupled to the microprocessor to provide instructions thereto, the memory including instructions that cause the microprocessor to decode the signal from the reading head and to verify that the plurality of playing cards is complete and contains no substituted playing cards.
10. The card deck reader of
a motor coupled to drive the field-of-view of the reading head with respect to the playing cards.
11. The card deck reader of
a motor operable to drive the field-of-view of the reading head across at least an information bearing portion of each of the playing cards before a first playing card is removed from the cradle.
12. The card deck reader of
a two-dimensional array reading head positioned in the housing to read a respective symbol on each of a number of the playing cards before a first one of the playing cards is removed from the cradle.
13. A method of automatically reading playing cards, comprising:
positioning a plurality of playing cards in a cradle located in a housing to expose a machine-readable symbol carrying portion of each of at least two of the playing cards;
automatically reading a respective machine-readable symbol from the machine-readable symbol carrying portion of each of at least two of the playing cards in the plurality of playing cards while the at least two of the playing cards are supported on the cradle and before a first one of the playing cards is removed from the housing to establish a playing card order; and
removing the plurality of playing cards from the housing such that each of the playing cards retains an order with respect to the other playing cards in the plurality of playing cards corresponding to an order in which the machine-readable symbols were read.
14. The method of
decoding each of the read machine-readable symbols.
15. The method of
for each of the playing cards, decoding a respective one of the read machine-readable symbols only if the playing card is dealt.
16. The method of
17. The method of
18. The method of
19. The method of
20. The method of
21. The method of
22. The method of
23. The method of
for each of the read playing cards, determining at least one of a rank and a suit for the playing card from the read machine-readable symbol after the playing card has been dealt.
This application is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 11/030,609, filed Jan. 5, 2005; which is a continuation of U.S. application Ser. No. 10/862,222, filed Jun. 7, 2004; which is a division of U.S. Pat. No. 6,758,751, issued Jul. 6, 2004; which is a division of U.S. Pat. No. 6,530,837, issued Mar. 11, 2003; which is a division of U.S. Pat. No. 6,460,848, issued Oct. 8, 2002; which claims the benefit under 35 U.S.C. § 119(e) of U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/130,368, filed Apr. 21, 1999.
1. Field of the Invention
The present description generally relates to monitoring various aspects of casinos and gaming, and more specifically relates to automated game and wager tracking and analysis.
2. Description of the Related Art
Casinos and other forms of gaming are a multi-billion dollar, world-wide industry. Typically, a customer exchanges currency or some form of credit for a casino's chips. The customer places the chips as wagers at various games, such as blackjack, craps, roulette, and baccarat. A game operator, such as a dealer, pays out winning wagers with additional chips based on the set of odds for the particular game. The dealer collects the customer's chips for losing wagers. The odds of each game slightly favor the casino, so on average the casino wins and is profitable.
Like many businesses, casinos wish to understand the habits of their customers. Some casinos have employees visually observe customer's game play, manually tracking the gaming and wagering habits of the particular customers. The information allows the casinos to select the number of different games that the casino will provide and to adequately staff those games. The information also allows the casinos to select certain customers to receive complimentary benefits (“comps”) and to determine the amount of comps a particular customer is to receive. The act of giving comps to a customer, commonly referred to as “comping,” produces a large amount of good will with the customers, encouraging customer loyalty and further wagering. Some casinos have attempted to partially automate the tracking process, reading a customer “comp” card to identify the customer. The actual gaming and wagering patterns of the customers are visually observed by casino personnel and manually entered into a computer to create a digitized copy of the customer's gaming habits.
Similarly, casinos wish to track the efficiency of the casino and the casino's employees. Such information allows the casino to make change to increase the overall efficiency of the casino and of the employees, benefiting both the casino and customers. A typical method of tracking employee efficiency is to manually count the number of hands of blackjack dealt by a dealer over some time period. A change in an amount in a bank at the gaming table can also be manually determined and combined with the count of the number of hands to determine a won/loss percentage for the dealer. The casino can use the information to take appropriate action, such as rewarding an efficient dealer, or providing additional training to an inefficient dealer.
The fast pace and large sums of money make casinos likely targets for cheating and stealing. Casinos employ a variety of security measures to discourage cheating or stealing by both customers and employees. For example, surveillance cameras covering a gaming area or particular gaming table provide a live or taped video signal that security personnel can closely examine. Additionally, or alternatively, “pit managers” can visually monitor the live play of a game at the gaming table.
While some aspects of a casino's security system should be plainly visible as a deterrent, other aspects of the security should be unobtrusive to avoid detracting from the players' enjoyment of the game and to prevent cheaters and thieves from avoiding detection.
The current methods of tracking have several drawbacks. The methods typically depend on manual observation of a gaming table. Thus coverage is not comprehensive, and is limited to tracking a relatively small number of games, customer's and employees. This problem is exacerbated by a customer's ability to rapidly move between gaming tables. A commonly known method for cheating customers to avoid detection is to switch tables frequently. The tracking methods are also prone to error since the manual methods rely on human observers who can become inattentive or distracted. In one commonly known method of cheating the casino, one member of a team will create a distraction while another member steals chips or swaps cards. These manual tracking methods are also labor intensive, and thus costly.
In one aspect, the invention includes a system for automatically monitoring playing and wagering of a game. In one illustrated embodiment, the system includes a card deck reader that automatically reads a respective symbol from each card in a deck of cards before a first one of the cards is removed from the deck. The symbol identifies a value of the card in terms of rank and suit, and can take the form of a machine-readable symbol, such as a bar code, area or matrix code or stacked code. In another aspect, the system does not decode the read symbol until the respective card is dealt, to ensure security.
In another aspect, the system can include a chip tray reader that automatically images the contents of a chip tray. The system periodically determines the number and value of chips in the chip tray from the image, and compares the change in contents of the chip tray to the outcome of game play to verify that the proper amounts have been paid out and collected.
In a further aspect, the system can include a table monitor that automatically images the activity or events occurring at a gaming table. The system periodically compares images of the gaming table to identify wagering, as well as the appearance, removal and position of cards and/or other objects on the gaming table. The table monitoring system can be unobtrusively located in the chip tray.
In yet a further aspect, the invention includes a drop box that automatically verifies an amount and authenticity of a deposit and reconciles the deposit with a change in the contents of the chip tray. The drop box can image different portions of the deposited item, selecting appropriate lighting and resolutions to examine security features in the deposited item.
In another aspect, the system can employ some, or all of the components to monitor the gaming habits of players and the performance of employees. The system can detect suspect playing and wagering patterns that may be prohibited. The system can also identify the win/loss percentage of the players and the dealer, as well as a number of other statistically relevant measures. Such measures can provide a casino or other gaming establishment with enhanced automated security, and automated real-time accounting. The measures can additionally provide a basis for automatically allocating complimentary benefits to the players.
In the following description, certain specific details are set forth in order to provide a thorough understanding of various embodiments of the invention. However, one skilled in the art will understand that the invention may be practiced without these details. In other instances, well-known structures associated with computers, computer networks, readers and machine-vision have not been shown or described in detail to avoid unnecessarily obscuring descriptions of the embodiments of the invention.
The headings provided herein are for convenience only and do not interpret the scope or meaning of the claimed invention.
This description initially presents a general explanation of gaming and gaming table monitoring components in the environment of a blackjack table. A more specific description of each of the individual hardware components and the interaction of the hardware components follows. A description of the overall operation of the system follows the hardware discussion. A more specific discussion of the operation of the system follows, presented in terms of discrete software modules. The presentation concludes with a discussion of a network of gaming tables.
During a game, the dealer 12 removes cards 19 from a card shoe 20. The dealer 12 can individually draw the cards from the card shoe 20, or can remove an entire deck 18 of cards 19 from the card shoe 20 to deal by hand. Many players 14, 16 appreciate the experience of a game where the cards are dealt from a deck 18 held by the dealer 12, rather than being individually drawn from the card shoe 20.
The players 14, 16 place their respective wagers by placing a number of wager chips 22 in wager circles 24 demarcated on a playing surface 26 of the gaming table 10. The chips 22 typically come in a variety of denominations, as is explained in detail below. Players 14, 16 are issued chips in exchange for currency or credit by the casino's tellers. Casino's typically require the use of chips 22 for wagering, rather than actual currency. A player 14 can chose to play multiple hands by placing more than one wager, as shown in
After the players 14, 16 have placed an initial wager of chips 22 in their respective wager circles 24, the dealer 12 deals each player two cards 30 face down, and deals herself one card 32 face down (“hole card”) 32 and one card 34 face up (“show card”) from the deck 18. The players 14, 16 can accept additional cards (“hits”) from the deck 18 as they attempt to reach a total card value of “21” without going over, where face cards count as ten points, and Aces can count as either one or eleven points, at the cardholder's option. The dealer 12 also attempts to reach “21” without going over, although the rules typically require the dealer 12 to take a hit when holding a “soft 17.” The players 14, 16 can vary their wagers (chips 22) after the initial cards 30-34 are dealt based on their knowledge of their own hand and the dealer's face up card 34. For example, the player 14, 16 can “hit” or “stand” and may “double down” or “buy insurance.”
At the end of a “hand” or game, the dealer 12 collects the wager chips 22 from losing players and pays out winnings in chips to the winning players. The winnings are calculated as a multiple of a set of odds for the game and the amount of the wager chips 22. The losses are typically the amount of the wager chips 22. The dealer 12 places the collected wager chips 22 or “take” from the losing players into a gaming table bank that takes the form of a chip tray 36. The dealer 12 pays out the winnings using the required number of chips 38 from the chip tray 36. The chip tray 36 generally consists of a number of wells, sized to receive the chips 38 with different wells generally used to contain different value chips. Changes to the contents of the chip tray 36 represent the winnings and loses of the casino (“house”) at the gaming table 10. Thus, maintaining an accurate count of the number and value of the chips 38 in the chip tray 36 can assist the casino in managing its operations. Many casinos permit the dealer 12 to exchange chips for items 41 of value such as currency or other items at the gaming table 10. The dealer 12 deposits the item 41 of value into a drop box 40 at or near the gaming table 10. Periodically, for example at the end of a dealer's shift, the contents of the drop box 40 must be reconciled with contents of the chip tray 36, to ascertain that the correct number and value of chips were distributed.
With reference to
As shown in
A play tracking subsystem 56 visually monitors activity on the playing surface 26 of the gaming table 10. The play tracking subsystem 56 is located in the chip tray 36, above the playing surface 26 of the gaming table 10. A chip tray monitoring subsystem 58 monitors the contents of the chip tray 36. The chip tray monitoring subsystem 58 can be located in the chip tray 36. The playing surface 26 has an opening 60 for receiving a lower portion of the chip tray 36, such that the chip tray monitoring subsystem 58 is positioned below the playing surface 26, although such positioning is not necessary to the function of the component subsystem. A card verification subsystem 62 identifies each of the cards in the card deck 18. The card verification subsystem 62 is located in the card shoe 20 (
Card Shoe/Card Verification Subsystem
The card verification subsystem includes, as shown in
As shown in
The exposed portions each carry identifying information about the card, and/or the card deck 18. For example, the rank and suit markings on the faces 76 of the cards can be exposed, which identify the value of each card 19 in the deck 18 in terms of rank and suit and which can be automatically read. The cards 19 can bear other machine-readable symbols such as bar code, area or matrix code, or stacked code symbols selected from respective symbologies to encode identifying information such as the rank and suit of the card, a unique serial number, and/or information about the card deck 18. For example, the cards 18 can carry bar code symbols 81 at one of the end portions 74 on the faces 76 of the cards as shown in
The particular embodiment shown has a number of reading and security advantages over other embodiments. Printing the bar code symbol 81 in invisible ink makes the bar code symbols 81 difficult to detect and read, and also makes the deck marking unobtrusive to the players 14, 16 (
The card verification subsystem 62 also includes, as shown in
The drive mechanism 86 includes a motor 90, pulleys 92, and first and second drive belts 94 entrained on the pulleys 92 to couple the motor 90 to the reading head 84. The linear CCD array 88 can continuously image an area for the cards 19, or the placement of the card deck 18 in the cradle 68 can trigger a switch 96, that activates the motor 90 and linear CCD array 88. Movement of the motor 90 causes the linear CCD array 88 to oscillate between two positions along a pair of supporting rails 98 to move a field-of-view 100 of the linear CCD array 88 between an end portion 74 of a top card 102 in the deck 18 and an end portion 74 of a bottom or last card 104 in the deck (
The two-dimensional CCD array 106 has a field-of-view 108 that is capable of imaging an area. The two-dimensional CCD array is positioned in the housing 66 such that the field-of-view 108 encompasses the exposed end portions 74 of each of the cards in the deck 18 at a same time, as the cards 19 are positioned on the sloped card support surface 70 of the card shoe 20. Thus, the alternative embodiment of
Chip Tray/Chip Tray Monitoring Subsystem
The chip tray 36 is shown in
A window 126 runs lengthwise along a bottom of each of the wells 118. Alternatively, the window 126 can run along a side of the well 118. The window 126 includes a tinted shield 128 that protects the inner optical and electrical elements of the play tracking and chip tray monitoring subsystems 56, 58 from view by the players 14, 16 and provides environmental protection for the components of the subsystems 56, 58.
The drive mechanism 134 includes a motor 138, pulleys 140 and a pair of drive belts 142 coupling the motor 138 to the linear CMOS sensor 136 by way of the pulleys. The rotational drive of the motor 138 causes the linear CMOS sensor 136 to oscillate along a linear rail 144 extending between a left side 146 and a right side 148 of side wall 120 of the chip tray 36, successively aligning the linear CMOS sensor 136 with each of the windows 126 of the chip tray wells 118 (
In an alternative embodiment (not shown), the chip reading head 132 includes a two-dimensional CMOS sensor array, having a field-of-view covering the each of the windows 126. The two-dimensional CMOS sensor array eliminates the need for the drive mechanism 134. In a further alternative (not shown), the chip reading head 132 includes a two-dimensional CMOS sensor array having a field-of-view covering at least two of the windows 126, but less than all of the windows 126.
Chip Tray/Play Tracking Subsystem
The play tracking subsystem 56 is shown in
With reference to
As discussed above and as shown in
Drop Box/Cash Accounting and Validation Subsystem
The drop box 40 includes the cash accounting and validation subsystem 64 (
A digital signal processor central processing unit (“DSP CPU”) 162, (separate from the gaming table CPU 52) controls the operation of the processor/controller PCB 160. The processor/controller PCB 160 is coupled to the image sensor 158 to receive the image pixel data in response to a timing synchronization signal produced by a timing/synchronization signal generator 164. A digitizer/processor 166 receives the image pixel data from the image sensor 158 and produces image data that is buffered in an image data synchronization buffer 168. The image data synchronization buffer 168 pass the image data through direct memory access to an image storage random access memory (“RAM”) 170.
A processor bus 172 provides communications between the DSP CPU 162 and a number of memories, including the image storage RAM 170, a code/variable RAM 174 and a code/model flash ROM 176. The processor bus 172 also provides communications between the DSP CPU 162 and a number of input/output (“I/O”) ports, including a machine control I/O 178, an operations communications port 180 and a diagnostics communication port 182. The machine control I/O 178 can control the position of the image sensor 158 with respect to the item 41 of value, for example, controlling a drive mechanism (not shown) that moves either the image sensor 158, the item 41 of value, or both.
The processor/controller PCB 160 may include additional components, or may eliminate some of the described components as will be recognized by those skilled in the art.
System Operation Overview
The overall operation of a monitoring system 50 used in the illustrate embodiment of the invention is shown in
A card verification function 304 reads identifying information from every card in the deck 18 prior to any of the cards being removed from the card shoe 20, and verifies that the deck 18 has not been tampered. The identifying information can identify every card 18 by rank and suit. The identifying information can employ a unique identifier, such as a unique serial number encoded in the machine-readable symbol 81 (
A chip tray monitoring function 306 continually monitors the chips 38 in the chip tray 36. Chip tray monitoring 306 provides a measure of the chip tray contents (i.e., counts and values of all chips 38 in the chip tray) to the table monitoring logic 302. The chip tray monitoring 306 can provide notice to the casino when a chip tray 36 at a particular one of the gaming tables 10 is running low, to allow additional chips to be delivered to the gaming table.
A play tracking function 308 monitors the activity on the playing surface 26 of the gaming table 10. Play tracking 308 continually determines the player's wager chips 22, tracks the appearance, removal and position of cards 30-34 on the playing surface 26, and otherwise determines the occurrence of other game events. The game events are the stimuli that drive the operation of the monitoring system 50, including the table monitoring logic 302. Play tracking 308 provides wager and card appearance information to the table monitoring logic 302, as well as notice of the occurrence and identity of other game events.
A cash box processing function 310 authenticates items 41 of value placed in the drop box 40, and determines the denomination of those items 41, including chips, currency, and other items of value. The reference to “cash” is simply for convenience and is not meant to limit the claims or description. The cash box processing function 310 provides cash value data to the table monitoring logic 302.
A player analysis function 312 receives data from the table monitoring logic 302, and checks to determine if there are statistical signs of prohibited player strategies, such as: card counting, knowledge of the top card; knowledge of the hole card; bet progressions; shuffle tracking; and chasing of Aces. The player analysis 312 also builds a profile of the players 14, 16.
To analyze the player strategy, the gaming table CPU 52 can compare a player's decision based on the player's knowledge of his own player held cards 30 as well as any other face up played cards 30 on the gaming table (
An employee analysis function 314 receives data from the table monitoring logic 302, and analyzes the data for the employee dealer 12 efficiency, performance and attendance.
A report function 316 receives data from the table monitoring logic 302, and analysis from the player and employee analysis 312, 314, respectively. The report function 316 generates appropriate reports regarding the playing habits of the players 14, 16 and about the performance and efficiency of the employee dealer 12. Reports can cover all aspects of the gaming, including financial reports, statistical reports based on player profiles, human resources reports based on employee data and marketing reports.
A software system 350 for implementing the above described functionality is shown in
A play tracking and coordination software module 800 acts as the focus, receiving data and signals from the other software modules, including: an identify wagers software module 400; an identify dealt cards software module 450; a card order reading software module 500; a bent card analysis software module 550; a tray analysis software module 600; and a bank inventory tracker software module 700. The play tracking and coordination software module 800 can also receive input from a keypad 184, output game data 186, and produce alerts 188. Game events drive the play tracking and coordination module 800, which implements the table monitoring logic function 302 (
The software system 350 monitors all events occurring at the blackjack gaming table 10 during the playing of the game and outputs status information to an on-line data base for immediate review and/or later review. The system 350 runs on a hardware platform that provides images of several different areas on the gaming table 10. The analysis of these images allows the system 350 to track the progress of the game.
Before play begins, the dealer 12 places a newly shuffled deck 18 of playing cards 19 into the card shoe 20 (
As play begins, the components of the subsystems 56, 58, 62, 64 (
At this time, the imaging of the chips 38 of the chip tray 36 is initiated since the contents of the tray 36 should be static until the current play round is over. The imaging will take some time to complete, and the completed image is stored until the round is finished when CPU time is available for the processing of the completed image.
Once play has begun, images of active player positions, determined by the previous detection of wager chips 22, are scanned for the presence of new cards. Once a hit is detected at a particular player position (i.e., an area proximate a player's wager circle 24), the card information for the newly played card is decrypted and the current value of the player's hand is determined. At this point, the value of all previous hands are examined to determine if the detected hit pattern is consistent with the card sequence up to this point. If the system 350 determines that the card sequence is valid, the accumulated event information is output to various reporting applications.
Since the actual card sequence may have been altered, either accidentally or intentionally after the deck 18 was read, it is possible that the hit pattern and the card sequence may not agree. This would occur if a card was dropped and placed in a discard rack, or if a new card were placed in the deck. If this occurs, the system 350 will continue to accumulate data as new cards are played, and the system 350 will attempt to resynchronize by shifting the assumed card sequence until it matches the hit pattern. Once this has been accomplished, the accumulated data is output.
When the dealer 12 finishes the play round, the stored images for the wager chips 22 and the chip tray 36 are analyzed to determine the dollar amounts that should have been exchanged on that round. At this point, all accumulated information is output to the reporting applications and the software system 350 scans for the start of a next round of play.
Thus, the monitoring system 50 allows casino management to track statistical information on possible player cheating, win/loss rates, and employee productivity in real-time. This is done in a discrete manner that does not interfere with the normal course of play. The individual software modules are discussed in detail below.
Identify Wagers Software Module/Identify Dealt Cards Software Module
The identify wagers software module 400 and the identify dealt cards software module 450 cooperate with the play tracking subsystem 56 (
If the gaming table CPU 52 determines that the player position is “Idle” in step 410, the gaming table CPU 52 compares the wager circle 24 in the present image to the wager circle 24 in last image, in a step 412. In step 414, the gaming table CPU 52 determines from the comparison whether wager chips 22 are present. If wager chips 22 are present, the gaming table CPU 52 notes the presence of one or more wager chips 22 for the player position in step 416, and passes control to step 418. If a wager 22 is not present, the gaming table CPU 52 pass control directly to step 418 to determine whether the position is a last player position. If the position is a last player position, the routine 400 terminates at the Done step 408. If other player positions exist, the gaming table CPU 52 scans the dealer position of dealer 12 for cards in a step 420. If in step 422, the gaming table CPU 52 does not locate cards at the dealer 12 positions, the gaming table CPU 52 starts acquisitions for all potential players in step 424. Otherwise the gaming table CPU 52 sets the player position as “Active” in step 426, and starts the acquisition of all “Active” player positions and the dealer position in step 428. The routine 400 terminates at the Done step 408.
If the player position is not “Idle,” the gaming table CPU 52 scans for a hit by one of the players 14, 16 (
In step 462, the gaming table CPU 52 determines whether the processing is successful. If processing is successful, the gaming table CPU 52 outputs a GO command in step 464. If the processing is not successful, the gaming table CPU 52 checks a failure code in step 466. In step 468, the gaming table CPU 52 determines whether the gaming table CPU 52 should make another attempt at processing the image, based on the failure code. If the gaming table CPU 52 determines that another should be made, the gaming table CPU 52 outputs a RETRY command in step 470 and terminates the routine 450 at the Done step 458. If not, the gaming table CPU 52 outputs a STOP command in step 472 and terminates the routine 450 at the Done step 458.
Card Order Reading Software Module
As shown in
A method of implementing the card order reading software module 500 is shown in
The gaming table CPU 52 acquires an image of the coded object in step 502. For example, the linear CCD array 88 of the card reading head 84 passes across each of the cards in the deck 18, capturing an image of the bar code symbols 81 printed the cards 19. In step 504, the gaming table CPU 52 locates the deck of cards 18 within the image. In step 506, the gaming table CPU 52 compares the number of located cards 19 in the image to the expected number of cards in the deck 18 to determine whether all of the cards in the deck 18 are present. If one or more cards are missing, control returns to step 502, to acquire another image. The card reader 82 can prompt the dealer 12 to realign the card deck 18, if necessary. If all of the playing cards 19 in the deck 18 are present, the gaming table CPU 52 reads the symbols 81 and produces raw, coded data bits in step 508. In step 510, the gaming table CPU 52 decodes the raw, coded data. The gaming table CPU 52 determines whether all of the bar code symbols 81 can be decoded in step 512. The decoding algorithm can include error checking. For example, the algorithm may be able to detect up to 32-bit errors and correct up to 16-bit errors. Other error checking schemes are possible. Control returns to step 502 if all of the bar code symbols 81 can not be decoded. The gaming table CPU 52 produces data 514 if all of the bar code symbols 81 can be decoded.
Bent Card Analysis Software Module
As shown in
The card reader 82 also checks the cards for crimping. Crimping involves marking the cards 19 by bending or folding the card toward or away from the face 76 to identify the card's relative rank. For example, cards having a value of ten, such as tens and face cards, can be bent upward. Additionally, or alternatively, cards of relatively low rank, such as two through five, are bent downward. The convexity or concavity in the card is subtle to avoid detection, but sufficiently pronounced to be perceptible by the player who has bent the card 19.
Tray Analysis Software Module
As shown in
The tray analysis software module 600 relies on a color space representation of color.
Learning New Chip Patterns
In step 616, the gaming table CPU 52 receives a region-of-interest (“ROI”) of an input image, consisting of an edge-on view of the chip. The gaming table CPU 52 can receive the image data from the gaming table CPU 52, or the image data can come from a system dedicated to imaging new chips. In step 618, the gaming table CPU 52 takes an average of the color information for each column of a color pattern carried on the edge 48 (
The CPU 52 traverses the profile, searching for changes in the color using a color distance operator. To search the profile, the gaming table CPU 52 sets an index to a first entry in step 620, and calculates the color distance between the current entry and the entry at an offset in step 622. The color distance operator returns a scalar value that is the linear distance between two colors in a three dimensional color space (i.e., the square root of the sum of the squares of the differences in each color plane). If the gaming table CPU 52 detects a change in the color greater than a predefined threshold in step 624, the gaming table CPU 52 calculates the length and average color for the preceding color segment in step 626. If the length exceeds a threshold length in step 628, the gaming table CPU 52 stores the length and average color in step 630. The gaming table CPU 52 increments the index in step 632, and repeats the steps until the gaming table CPU 52 detects an end of line in step 634, concluding the routine 612 at step 636. Optionally, the gaming table CPU 52 can compare the color band information to ensure that the new chip has a unique color scheme.
Locating Chip Positions
In step 658, the gaming table CPU 52 starts at the first row and column of the ROI that may contain wager chips 22 and scans across the row looking for changes in color. In step 660, the gaming table CPU 52 calculates the color distance between a current pixel and an offset pixel, using the color distance operator described above. In step 662, the gaming table CPU 52 compares the color distance to a threshold value to detect a change in color. If the gaming table CPU 52 detects a change in color (i.e., color distance>threshold), the gaming table CPU 52 calculates the average color and length of the segment in step 664.
In step 666, the gaming table CPU 52 compares the length and color of each color segment to a list of segments for each of the recognizable chip patterns stored in memory. If the gaming table CPU 52 finds a match in step 668, the gaming table CPU 52 increments a match count for the wager chip 22 in step 670. The gaming table CPU 52 increments the column index in step 672, and repeats the process until the gaming table CPU 52 detects an end of the column in step 674. The gaming table CPU 52 stores the value of the best match along the row into an array in step 676. The gaming table CPU 52 increments a row index in step 678, and repeats the process until the gaming table CPU 52 detects an end of the rows in step 680. At the end of the each row, the value of the chip with the highest match count is stored in the array, using the row as an index into the array. Depending on the resolution of the image, each wager chip 22 is represented by one or more rows.
In step 682, the gaming table CPU 52 scans the array of values and groups the rows with equal values into segments of approximately the same height as a wager chip 22. This permits the gaming table CPU 52 to determine the number and total value of the wager chips 22 in the image. The number and total value of the wager chips 22 are reported in step 684, and the routine 654 terminates at step 686.
Bank Inventory Tracker Software Module
As shown in
If the DSP CPU 162 recognizes the item as U.S. currency, the DSP CPU 162 first determines an orientation of the item 41 in step 706, and determines the denomination and series of the item 41 in step 708. The denomination represents the value or amount of the item 41. The series identifies the date that the item 41 was printed or the group to which the item 41 belongs. The series can indicate presence or absence of certain security features in the item 41, for example micro-printing, or a security thread or band. The DSP CPU 162 can also use the series to help verify a serial number carried by the item 41. In step 710, the DSP CPU 162 determines whether the image sensor 158 is imaging a front or a back of the item 41. If image sensor 158 is imaging the front of the item 41, the image sensor 158 reads a serial number printed on the front of the item 41 in step 712.
In step 714, the image sensor 158 images other portions of the item 41 using varying levels and types of illumination, as well as varying levels of resolution. The portions of the item 41 are generally selected for their inclusion of security features. While the location of these security features for each item type are defined in a memory, the DSP CPU 162 can randomly or pseudo-randomly vary the particular security features examined and/or the portions of the security features that it examines to make forgery more difficult. For example, the DSP CPU 162 can select the portion of the item 41, the security feature, or the portion of the security feature from a list of suitable portions, security features or portions of security features. The list can be specific to the item type, for example, a one list for U.S. currency and another list for a foreign currency. The selection can be truly random, or can simply alternate among a number of defined portions to appear random to a counterfeiter. The DSP CPU 162 selects the particular level and type of illumination, and selects the resolution according to the particular security feature being examined. The DSP CPU 162 selects the illumination and resolution characteristics for the particular item type from a set of predefined characteristics in one of the memories.
In step 716, the DSP CPU 162 examines the image data to determine whether the paper is valid. For example, the DSP CPU 162 can identify the number and color of color threads (e.g., blue, red) in a portion of the paper. The DSP CPU 162 can activate a fluorescent illumination source where the security feature relies on fluorescence. If the DSP CPU 162 determines that the paper is not valid, control pass to step 718, indicating an invalid bill has been identified. In response, the DSP CPU 162 or some other controller can reject the item and/or provide a suitable warning. In step 720, the DSP CPU 162 examines the seal and other details of the item 41 to determine the item's validity. If invalid, control again passes to step 718 identifying the invalid item.
In step 722, the DSP CPU 162 determines if the item 41 is from the 1996 or later series. If the item 41 is from a series before the 1996 series, the DSP CPU 162 stops testing, concludes the item 41 is valid, and passes control to step 724 identifying the item 41 as valid. If the item 41 is from the 1996 series, or a later series, the reader continues testing, examining the micro-print on the item in step 726. Micro-print is a security feature added in the 1996 series to foil forgery using high quality color copiers. If the DSP CPU 160 determines that the micro-print is invalid, control passes to step 718 indicating that the item 41 is invalid. If valid, the DSP CPU 162 examines the item 41 for a security thread or security band in step 728. The security thread or band is a thin strip incorporate in the U.S. currency. If the DSP CPU 162 determines that the security band is invalid, control again passes to the step 718 indicating the item 41 as invalid, otherwise the item 41 is considered valid and control passes to step 724 indicating that the item 41 is valid. The DSP CPU 160 can examine other security features as desired, such as a watermark.
If the item 41 of value is recognized as a piece of foreign currency, the DSP CPU 162 determines the item's orientation in step 730, and the denomination and series of the item 41 in step 732. In step 734, the DSP CPU 162 determines whether the image sensor 158 is imaging a front or a back of the item 41. If image sensor 158 is imaging the front of the item 41, the image sensor 158 reads a serial number printed on the front of the item 41 in step 736.
In step 738, the image sensor 158 images other portions of the item 41 using varying levels and types of illumination, as well as varying levels of resolution. In step 740, the DSP CPU 162 examines the image data to determine whether the paper is valid. In step 742, the DSP CPU 162 examines the image data to determine whether the ink color and detail are valid. In step 744, the DSP CPU 162 examines other security features specific to the currency and determines whether those features are valid. In each case, control passes to step 718 to indicate that the item 41 is invalid if any feature is determined to be invalid. Otherwise control passes to the next sequential step, until all tests are complete and the item 41 is determined valid in step 724.
If the item of value 41 is recognized as a piece of scrip, for example valuable paper issued by the casino, the DSP CPU 162 determines the item's orientation in step 746. In step 748, the DSP CPU 162 causes the image sensor 158 to locate and read a machine-readable symbol encoding identifying information for the scrip. For example, a bar code symbol can encode the series, denomination, serial number and identification of an issuing facility.
In step 750, the image sensor 158 images other portions of the item 41 using varying levels and types of illumination, as well as varying levels of resolution. In step 752, the DSP CPU 162 examines the image data to determine whether the paper is valid. In step 754, the DSP CPU 162 examines the image data to determine whether the ink color and detail are valid. In step 756, the DSP CPU 162 examines other security features specific to the currency and determines whether those features are valid. In each case, control passes to step 718, indicating that the item is invalid if any feature is determined to be invalid. Otherwise control passes to the next sequential step, until all tests are complete and the item 41 is determined valid in step 724.
Play Tracking Software Module
In step 804, the gaming table CPU 52 determines whether there are any wager chips 22 on the gaming table 10 (
If cards 32, 34 have been dealt to the dealer 12, the gaming table CPU 52 in step 812, determines the identity of the cards 30 held by each of the players 14, 16 and the dealer 12. The gaming table CPU 52 relies on the information from the card order reading software module 500 (
In step 814, the gaming table CPU 52 determines whether any player has split their hand. Again, the gaming table CPU 52 is relying on data from the identify dealt cards software module 450 (
In step 822, the gaming table CPU 52 waits for the dealer 12 to take an additional card or to stand. In step 824, the gaming table CPU 52 computer determines the wins and losses based on its knowledge of the value of each card held by the player 14, 16 and the dealer 12. In step 826, the gaming table CPU 52 checks the calculated winnings to be paid out and losses against the changes to contents of the chip tray 36. The gaming table CPU 52 determines whether there is a discrepancy in step 828, reporting any possible error in step 830 for possible verification and action, and finishing execution at a restart step 832. If the gaming table CPU 52 discovers a discrepancy in the order of the cards in the discard holder, or an unexpected card, the gaming table CPU 52 reports the error in the step 830.
If gaming table CPU 52 does not detect a discrepancy, the gaming table CPU 52 checks cards placed in a discard holder (not shown). If gaming table CPU 52 discovers no discrepancy in step 836, the gaming table CPU 52 compiles a set of result statistics in step 838, and prepares for a next hand or game by passing control to the restart step 832.
Integrated Casino System
A number of gaming tables 10 are shown in
Player Profiling and Identification
To create a comprehensive player profile, the monitoring system 50 tracks players 14, 16 from gaming table 10 to gaming table 10, or from time to time at the same gaming table 10. The monitoring system 50 can rely on some, or all, of a variety of player tracking methods to identify players 14, 16 as they move between gaming tables 10, or as the player 14, 16 resumes playing after a period of inactivity (e.g., a few minutes, days, months, or years).
Some players 14, 16 will present a player identity or “comp” card (not shown), that contains player identifying information. The ability to receive complimentary benefits provides an incentive for the players 14, 16 to present such a card. The card may include identifying information, such as a name, address, and/or a unique serial number encoded in a magnetic stripe on the card.
Some players 14, 16 are reluctant to present such identifying information to the casino, especially players that are employing prohibited tactics. The system employs other methods for identifying these players 14, 16, for example, automated facial recognition. Video cameras 5 (
A still further method of identifying players 14, 16 is through the tracking of wager chips 22. Each chip can have a unique serial number. The monitoring system 50 associates a wager chip 22 with a player 14, 16 when the player initially receives chips at the casino's bank. The monitoring system 50 scans the chips 38 in the chip tray 36 after each hand or round. The monitoring system 50 can employ a knowledge of the chip contents of the chip trays 36 to track the path of a particular chip, from gaming table to gaming table, and to some extent, from player to player. While such information may not absolutely identify a player 14, 16, it can eliminate some players and increase the probability of correctly identifying a particular player 14, 16.
For example, the monitoring system 50 can record an association between the first player 14 and the identifiers of a number of chips initially issued to the first player 14 by the casino. The monitoring system 50 can then identify the first player 14 at a first one of the gaming tables 10, through the “comp” card, facial recognition and/or the appearance of one or more of the issued chips in the chip tray 36 at the first table. The monitoring system 50 can ascertain the identity of the second player 16 at a second one of the gaming tables when a wager chip 22 lost by the first player 14 at the first gaming table 10 turns up in the chip tray 36 at the second gaming table. Once the wager chip 22 disappears from the chip tray 36 at the first gaming table 10, the monitoring system 50 assumes that one of the winning players at the first gaming table received the chip lost by the first player 14. Facial recognition may eliminate one or more of the winning players 16, allowing the monitoring system 50 to identify the player 16 through the combination of chip tracking and/or facial recognition.
The networked monitoring system 50 of
For example, a payout for a winning player 14, 16 at one of a group of gaming tables 10 may be increased over the normal table odds after a period of losses at the group of gaming tables, or based on an entire amount of losses at the group of gaming tables. Thus, as time goes on the size of the payout increases, or a jackpot grows.
Simulated Representation of Actual Gaming Environment
The simulation 950 also includes a graphical representation of the chip tray 966 and the chip 968 contents of the chip tray at the given point in the game. The simulation can include a representation of the number of chips of each denomination, as well as total amounts for each denomination of chip and for the entire chip tray in a chart 970.
The simulation 950 can further include a table of statistics 972 for the players, table and dealer. These statistics are computed by the gaming table CPU 52. Additionally, the simulation can include a graphical representation of the playing patterns of the individual players at each of the playing positions (numbered 1-7) in table form 974, along with a prediction on whether the player is employing a prohibited strategy, such as card counting. The monitor 952 can be at the gaming table 10 and/or at a central security station, or elsewhere in the casino to be monitored by casino security personnel.
The above description sets out a non-intrusive system to record and analyze data for accounting, marketing and/or financial purpose. Further details are set out in applicants' U.S. provisional patent application Ser. No. 60/130,368, filed on Apr. 21, 1999, and entitled “TRACKING SYSTEM FOR GAME OF CHANCE.”
Although specific embodiments of, and examples for, the invention are described herein for illustrative purposes, various equivalent modifications can be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention, as will be recognized by those skilled in the relevant art. The teachings provided herein of the invention can be applied to monitoring systems for other wagering games, not necessarily the exemplary blackjack card game generally described above. For example, the table monitoring subsystem can track gaming objects other than cards, such as dice 1, 2 shown in
The system can employ other methods of automatically tracking the contents of the chip tray, and the identity and position of the gaming objects. For example, the chips and/or the gaming objects can have symbols other than optically detectable symbols, for example magnetic stripes, encoding the identifying information. The system would then include magnetic readers in addition to, or instead of optical readers such as imagers, scanners and other image capture devices.
The monitoring system can have a different organization than the illustrated embodiment, combining some functions and/or eliminating some functions. The system can employ some of the disclosed automated components for some functions, while relying on manual methods for other functions. The system can be more centralized, or more distributed, as is suitable for the particular gaming environment.
The various embodiments described above can be combined to provide further embodiments. All of the above U.S. patents, patent applications, provisional patent applications and publications referred to in this specification, are incorporated herein by reference. Aspects of the invention can be modified, if necessary, to employ systems, circuits and concepts of the various patents, applications and publications to provide yet further embodiments of the invention.
All of the above U.S. patents, U.S. patent application publications, U.S. patent applications, foreign patents, foreign patent applications and non-patent publications referred to in this specification and/or listed in the Application Data Sheet, including but not limited to U.S. Pat. No. 6,460,848, issued Oct. 8, 2002; and U.S. Provisional Patent Application No. 60/130,368, filed Apr. 21, 1999, are incorporated herein by reference, in their entirety.
These and other changes can be made to the invention in light of the above-detailed description. In general, in the following claims, the terms used should not be construed to limit the invention to the specific embodiments disclosed in the specification and the claims, but should be construed to include all gaming monitoring systems and methods that operate in accordance with the claims. Accordingly, the invention is not limited by the disclosure, but instead its scope is to be determined entirely by the following claims.